Nestled in the heart of the Peak District National Park, the Derwent Reservoir offers a stunning setting for a splendid day out. If you’re taking the train, the nearest station is Bamford, a modest journey from Sheffield or Manchester. From Bamford, a handful of bus services can whisk you away to the reservoir, or you can embark on a pleasant cycling route if you’re feeling adventurous. For drivers, the Fairholmes Visitor Centre offers ample parking.
Once you’ve arrived, the grandeur of the Derwent Dam greets you. Constructed between 1902 and 1916, this imposing edifice holds back the reservoir’s water with sheer determination. Its twin towers, reminiscent of a stately home, give a stunning backdrop to the glittering water and surrounding woodland. Fun fact – did you know the dam was used for practice runs by the famous 617 Squadron for their bouncing bomb runs in the Second World War?
As you stroll across the dam, do keep an eye out for the commemorative plaque that pays tribute to these heroic pilots. A few steps away, the West Tower houses a little gem, the Derwent Dam Museum, where you can delve deeper into this fascinating piece of history. Admission is free, though a small donation goes a long way in maintaining this local treasure.
The reservoir isn’t just for history buffs, though. Nature lovers will be enchanted by the surrounding woodland, home to diverse wildlife. Keep an eye out for woodland birds, and if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a deer darting through the trees.
Derwent Reservoir is heaven for walkers, offering a range of routes that cater to all fitness levels. A leisurely amble along the edge of the reservoir takes you on a 3-mile route offering stunning views of the water and surrounding hills. The path is well-maintained, making it suitable for pushchairs and less able walkers.
For those seeking more of a challenge, the Derwent Edge walk is a must. This 8-mile loop promises sweeping views over the reservoir and beyond. The terrain can be rugged, so don’t forget your sturdy boots! This route will introduce you to some intriguingly named rock formations – the Salt Cellar, the Wheel Stones, and the Cakes of Bread. Keep your camera at the ready for these unique sights.
Nestled amidst all this natural beauty, you’ll find the Fairholmes Visitor Centre. Here, you can refuel with a nice cup of tea and some cake, pick up maps, or get advice on local walks. The centre also rents out bikes, so you have the option of exploring the area on two wheels.
One more feature of the reservoir is its role in supplying fresh drinking water to much of Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. The water is treated at the nearby Bamford Water Treatment Works before being piped to homes across the region.
Derwent Reservoir isn’t just a place of historical interest, natural beauty, and crucial infrastructure – it’s also a cherished part of the community. Local events such as charity runs and the annual Dambusters Memorial Walk bring the place alive with a spirit of camaraderie.
To sum it all up, whether you’re a history enthusiast, an avid walker, a nature lover, or just someone in need of a day out in the fresh air, the Derwent Reservoir is a must-visit. Its unique blend of captivating landscapes, intriguing history, and community spirit makes it a place that truly has something for everyone. Can’t wait to see you there!